“For it is a people of no understanding; therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, and He who formed them will show them no favor.” (Is. 27:11)
Here, like many other places in Scripture God holds people to a standard of understanding, a standard of knowledge. Children love the excuse, “but I didn’t know,” and adults are frequently no better. We all tend to marinate in our ignorance and then protest when we face the consequences of our folly. But to know God, more specifically to fear God is to begin a life-long journey of seeking out wisdom, seeking out understanding, seeking to know God, to know His word and his world, to grow in skills of living and loving well. But fools despise wisdom and understanding. And it’s just easier to go with the flow, or just do what seems to make the most sense to you. Maybe that means mindlessly doing what your parents did; maybe it means doing anything but what your parents did. But Proverbs says that we ought not to lean on our own understanding, that we must not be wise in our own eyes. Pride is content with thoughtlessness. Fools hate knowledge.
This means that whatever God has called you to, He calls you to seek excellence in it. If God has called you to be a husband, you have the duty of studying God’s word to understand what it means to be a faithful husband. You must study your wife, listen to her, make changes, pray, repent, and put God’s word into practice. If God has called you to be wife, you have a duty to study God’s word to know what it means to be a faithful wife. If you are parents, you must study God’s word to understand what that duty requires of you. If you have parents, you must study to know how to honor them rightly. If you are an employer or an employee, a student or a teacher, a businessman, a politician, a doctor, you must study God’s word, seek the wisdom of godly counselors, and seek to apply that knowledge in your callings.
God is a gracious Father, and He has compassion on us in our weakness and ignorance. He remembers our frames that we are but dust. But that doesn’t mean that God is an indulgent Father. It doesn’t mean that He turns a blind eye to laziness and pride. There will be some at the last day who receive the judgment of God who will say, “but I didn’t know,” and God will say, “but you should have.”